Saturday, November 3, 2007

Residuals: How I'd do it (but nobody asked)

Hey there.

Okay, so I'll start the discussion, because every time we all get together, it turns to this anyway. And while I have no control over this situation, if anybody ever asked me - or if Nicole and Matt make it into the Legion of Super Animators (The 839 board) and have some sway over the discussion - this is what I think.

There are two types of writers in animation. Story board people, and script people. There are two types of productions in animation, board based story telling and script based story telling.

With that in mind, my little math here ONLY works within an 839 production, because those are the shows where story and script changes as the show evolves. On a prime-time script driven show, I do not believe that to be the case. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

I think the hypothetical residuals should be split 80/20, depending on the production.

On a script show - lets say Fairly Oddparents or Yin Yang Yo - the script writer does all the heavy lifting for the story telling - from premise, to outline, to three drafts of the script. Because the script is the blueprint, acting, direction, setting, and visual gags are all laid in there. At this point, a board person will tell this story... but it's already been arc'd out.

On a board show - lets say Spongebob - a writer will write a detailed outline and then off the board artist goes. Here, I would switch it - give the board artist 80 percent of an imaginary residuals, and give the person who created the story and wrote the outline 20 percent.

And in a John K world where productions don't even have keyboards because script writing is unimportant, the storyboard artist could go from premise, to board, and keep 100% of any hypothetical residuals.

How the production worked would be created by the person who created the show, which only seems fair.

There's my brain dump. Have at it.


Steve Hulett said...

I think you should have a pro rata deal, based on work actually performed. (Be it scripted on boards, co-scripted on boards, or whatever.)

How that would be monitored and enforced by a union, I have no idea. Probably endless arbitrations.

Steve said...

But that's why it needs to be a moderately fair, if not periodically unfair, system.

Boards = 80% board artist, 20% premise.
Script = 80% script writer, 20% board.

The problem, of course, is when EP's slap their name on boards the didn't board or scripts they didn't write.

But in THEORY - a world where everybody splits something would be awesome.

Anonymous said...

"The problem, of course, is when EP's slap their name on boards the(y) didn't board or scripts they didn't write."

Steve, you’re being terribly disingenuous.

EPs, as much as I don’t trust them, have never taken credit for songs in animation that I’ve written (songs that I receive royalties on.) C’mon, man, that was a cheap shot. I really think something like this can work.

Steve said...

Hmm. I wasn't trying to be disingenuous. If anything, I was taking a shot at myself, as an EP, or a P or a Story Editor.

The fact is - EP's and P's and Story Editors are the ones who make the credit distinctions in all those things... and it's not a democracy.

There have been scripts that I've felt I've rewritten so much, and invested so much into, that I've placed shared credit on... and money WASN'T part of the equation.

I can't speak for the board side of it. I've never reworked a board to the point where I've had that much invested in it that I thought it would be unfair to me to NOT put my name on it. But then, I can't draw. :)

It's an inexact science.

But it's less so with the guild - they have an arbitration unit on that. It's used more for pilots, but if I'm not incorrect, it can be used for anything.

Anyway - some clarification, I suppose, at this late hour. Not trying to be disingenuous. Simply trying to throw out ideas, solutions, and possible road blocks.

Matt Wayne said...

Something like that. In terms of hours at a desk, boarding a show is about three times the work as writing a full script, so on a typical half hour, a director, a writer and three board artists probably have 20% coming.

If there ever were a royalty pot to split, I'd suggest 20% for the director, 60% for the storyboard (20 per act) 8% for the outline, 12% for the script (or, in the case of shows that don't have scripts, whoever does the dialogue).

I know that on certain shows storyboard artists have a greater say, but there's still a writer in the chain, coming up with an outline that gets ignored and often, writing dialogue over the boards. I don't think it's fair to adjust the split based on who gets their way, but rather on the work done. So that 12% for script should go to whoever writes the dialogue, and the 8% goes to who writes the outline.

And if you say your show is done 100% by storyboard artists, I say you're a liar. We're talking about who does what work, not who brings the funny. And even John K. writes the basic plot down first.

Does this seem about right? Pretending it might be possible.

Matt Wayne said...

Heh. Royalties? I meant residuals. But you can see how this is similar to the way the funnybooks do it.

Miles said...

Boarding is three times as hard as writing? How did you measure those apples and oranges?

My personal opinion is that you shouldn't cut the creator of a show or the showrunner out of the residuals payout.
I would suggest this split.

5% to the creator
5% to the executive producer
10% for the story by
20% to the outline
30% to the script (if there is one)
30% to the storyboard artist if based on a script
60% if it was based on an outline.


Anonymous said...

Boarding is harder than writing? I agree, that's an apples n' oranges argument. But if you want to go with degree of difficulty then running a show is a least 10 times harder than writing a script or boarding an episode - and leaving the creator with only a measly 5% is a joke. Selling a show? That's the hardest job of all.

Steve said...

Well, actually, I disagree with the 5% because Executive Producers and Creators usually share points on the back end of their show in success.

Take that out of the mix, and we're pretty close on all of it...

I also think, for it to work, the math has to be super simple - X on a board show, Y on a script show - or the whole thing becomes cumbersome and unwieldly.

Mangrove said...

"Exec Producers and Creators usually share points on the back end"?

Not at Disney they don't.

Matt Wayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Wayne said...

Either way, creators and producers deals aren't what a union negotiates. I'm not budgeting the world's most equitable show, I'm talking about fantasy labor agreements.

Yes, storyboarding and writing are apples and oranges, but there needs to be a ratio that both positions can accept. And since a whole lot of shows will have three board artists for a half hour and one writer, it seems like that's about the same amount of work. That's how they figure it for comics: Writing is on quarter of the pool, pencilling is about half of the pool, and inking is about one quarter of the pool–it's apples and oranges to say writing a comic is about the same work as inking, but pencilling is twice as much. They do it, because that's the best simple formula that most people will accept.

Miles, the idea of letting the three people who usually storyboard a half hour each get 10% of our imaginary bupkis pool while the story, outline and premise people, usually the same guy, split 60% is kind of stingy.

Anyway, it's fun to think about. We'll see what the next 839 negotiations accomplish. I think it's in 2009.